How God Makes God
On first launch, I suggest that you select the "About" button to be taken through an introductory chapter. Then, you are ready to start your journey at "The Beginning". An index is available to jump directly to points previously reached. To complete the entire interactive book, including the various games and activities within, may take upwards of 14 hours.
Controls are idiosyncratic, this software is unlike anything I've used before. But it does quickly begin to make sense.
Speed of dialogue and pauses between slides can be changed and I recommend that you set dialogue to 100 and pauses to 0. Everything then runs through quite comfortably. This preset needs to be changed at each launch.
Screengrab of speed controls:
Here are some screengrabs showing the various controls and what they do. Note that there are two distinct control strips, which are displayed at different times depending which kind of slide you are on. Speed of dialogue is accessed by clicking the "S" icon to the left of the control strip.
Screengrabs of guide to main controls:
toolbox of concepts for understanding probability, game theory, genetic
algorithms and evolutionary strategies
over three years to produce, this CD-ROM is a compilation of twenty-five years
of experience in applying game theory and evolutionary strategies to business
and real life situations. Originally entitled "A City of Concepts",
it consists of 204 conceptual ideas, each explained in a way that makes them
easy to understand.
To help with the explanations and to make the
theoretical content more entertaining to read, a unique, animated comic book
style is used. This allows the explanations to be in the form of dialgues. The
characters and scenes for these dialogues are based upon 19th century
engravings, which enable a subtle humor to be introduced into what could
otherwise be heavy reading.
these dialogues are many interactive games and animated models to explain the
concepts of probability, game theory, genetic algorithms, evolutionary biology
and simulated emotional control mechanisms.
A description of content
you like exercising your mind, you will find this CD-ROM exhilarating. After
all, it did win a major award, has received many rave reviews and in some areas
even has a cult following.
main attraction is the way in which it introduces and explains abstract
concepts in an understandable way. The general idea is that each of 204 scenes
presents the reader with a new concept. These 204 concepts progressively add
together to build a complete conceptual framework to provide the reader with a
unique, analytical way of thinking that can be applied both in social and
teaches you how to think in terms of probabilities. It gives you a new
understanding of groups and communication strategies. It shows you how to
employ game theory to cope with competitive situations where there is risk and
covering fairly sophisticated ideas and theory the style is light hearted, even
humorous at times, with no arcane language or mathematics. Difficult concepts
are explained using drawings, animations and interactive games.
These are some of the main conceptual areas
a) Understanding the patterns which emerge in probability theory by
playing various games of chance.
b) Seeing money creation strategies in terms of trying to increase
efficiency by competing for and arranging acts of cooperation.
c) Understanding John Maynard Kenynes' perceptive model of economic
d) Putting a strategy for creating wealth into a game theory
e) Understanding the concept of risk taking and working out how to take
f) Learning the essential corner stones of finance and the theory of
g) Understanding the simple ideas behind discounted cash flow, compound
interest and exponential growth.
h) Comparing optimum strategies for creating wealth with the rules of
i) Seeing how rules can evolve in the same way that biological features
can evolve in an organic structure.
j) Seeing the cell as a biological computer.
k) Looking at biological structures as information carrying networks of
l) The mathematical concepts driving evolution.
m) Seeing instinctive behavior patterns as being driven by combinations
of evolved emotions triggered by environmental stimuli.
n) Using genetic algorithms to demonstrate how patterns of emotion and
behavior can evolve to form a control system.
o) Speculations on the evolution of intelligent machines.
is a lot to go through - it takes about 14 hours to read - but it is not as
heavy as it looks. It builds up like a detective story, allowing you to compare
your own developing thoughts with those of two guides who discuss with each
other the implications of the succession of new ideas and concepts as they are
fun is in seeing if this exercise of the mind can make any significant
difference to the way you look at life and think about your professional
approach to business.
Why it is entitled How God Makes God
The title is of course the ultimate paradox. And
this what the understanding of evolutionary strategies is about: the resolution
of paradoxes. The second law of thermodynamics tell us that order and
organization gradually degrades, but, evolution leads to greater not lesser
organization. This CD-ROM explains how this paradox is resolved and shows how
the same mechanisms that bring order and efficiency to biological organisms can
be used by us in both social and business situations.
From "Dust or Magic, Creative Work In The Digital Age" by Bob Hughes:
PETER SMALL: THE
SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE IN BLACK AND WHITE
Peter Small is a rather William Blake-like figure: his message is a
cosmic one, fiercely expressed. His means of expression are utterly
idiosyncratic, and he does absolutely everything himself What copperplate
gravure and water-color were for Blake, the Mac and Macromedia Director are for
He arrived on the British 'multimedia' scene apparently from
nowhere in 1993, aged 50-ish, with an extraordinary, self-produced, self-published
CD Rom entitled How God Makes God (HGMG). He had sold his house in order to make
it and it took him three years. It starts "In the beginning, there was chance,"
and goes on to explain how chance works in every aspect of life from games, to
investments, human relationships, natural selection, the evolution of emotion, quantum
physics and lots more.
appeared right at the height of the 1990s 'shovelware' epidemic - and probably
owed quite a lot of the enthusiastic reception it received in the British computer
press to the way it so flagrantly defied the high-gloss, content-free approach that
typified the era. Not only did it present the most daunting concepts imaginable
- it did
so entirely in 1-bit black and white, and used neither sound nor QuickTime. You're
warned at the start: "If you’re hoping for an action-packed game you're
in for a disappointment. However if you want to learn how to win at the game of life, read
WHAT 'GOD' DOES
subject seems so perfect for the computer-medium one wonders why so few other
people have tackled it: chance. Random-number generation is one of the
computer's most basic functions. (It's not true randomness - but Small explains
why that is.) Where a book merely explains about chance, here you can experience
it for yourself, hands on.
For example, you're given an explanation of a system for winning
(modestly) at roulette, then you try it for yourself - and discover why 'systems'
don't in fact work. You can experiment with dice and coin-tossing - and of
course run much bigger experiments than you'd be able to do with real dice and coins:
thousands of throws in seconds - limited only by your computer's clock speed. You
learn about Erwin Schrödinger’s famous 'cat' thought-experiment - and try it for
From these basics you learn how chance gives rise to Life, the
Universe and Everything - including such basic, human issues as money, emotion, religion,
the odds against popping a champagne-cork so that it goes down
The barmaid's cleavage, and how to decide whether a prospective husband
is worth marrying (in actual cash).
THE INTERFACE OF GOD
God's interface is a bit clunky, but it works (in a mysterious way
Small's problem was that he had something like 90,000 words that he
wanted to get across. There was no way he could do it with sound - even reading
it very fast and recording it at the lowest quality setting. He decided to
present the whole thing as a comic book, using speech bubbles.
Then there was the graphics problem: he couldn't afford to commission
an artist and couldn't draw himself. So he spent a few days in the second- hand
bookshops of London's Tottenham Court Road buying old Victorian and Edwardian annuals.
From these, he culled a wonderfully idiosyncratic cast of ready-made, copyright-free
characters and scenery. There's a man and woman in a Sherlock Holmes-vintage railway
carriage; a pair of seductive, Burne-Jonesish beauties with flowing hair and
heaving bosoms; small-time crooks, drunks and horse-fanciers in the snug of a Holborn
tavern; distinguished statesmen with pince-nez spectacles and starched collars
in the smoking-room of a Pall Mall club, etc ... a cast of thousands, all acquired
for a few quid. There was still the problem of how to produce the hundreds of animated
comic strips he needed, without running out of disk space. His solution was to make
Director itself do the animations, at run-time. He built himself a special authoring
interface in Director in which he specified precisely where everything would
appear and when. When you run the CD, a Lingo 'animation engine' assembles the animations
from his 'kit of parts', on the fly. This way, each piece of artwork could be used
over and over again - and he was able to control the action very precisely.
The final sequences have an amusing superficial crudeness - but they are
also highly cinematic: well-paced, with wittily-used close-ups, cutaway shots,
fades, dissolves and pull-backs. It is a shame that so few other developers have
tried this technique.
ABOUT PETER SMALL
Small's background is at least as odd as his 'God'. He has alluded to an
unusual education among British Government scientists, a career in the fashion
industry, followed by another career as a professional gambler - all of which
(and such books as Douglas Hofstadter's Godel, Escher, Bach, Richard Dawkins's The
Blind Watchmaker and Andrew Hodges' biography of Alan Turing) led to a consuming
interest in the workings of evolution and randomness - and thence the computer.
He has never made much money from How God Makes God, but the
techniques and ideas he developed while making it have made him quite famous - at least, among
people who use Macromedia Director and Shockwave. His book Lingo Sorcery has
revealed the power of object-oriented Lingo to thousands of new-media workers
and its successor, Magical A-Life Avatars, introduces extremely powerful techniques
that used to be considered strictly the province of theoretical computer science:
for example genetic algorithms and 'Hilbert space'. And although his ideas push
towards the boundaries of computer science, he still clothes them in the same stock
of Edwardian images he acquired for the making of God.
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